This week's Torah portion begins with the commandment of the giving of the half of a silver shekel coin. G‑d tells Moses to take a census of the Jewish people. Instead of counting heads, every Jew is commanded to give half of a silver shekel coin. By counting the half of shekels, Moses would know the number of Jewish people.

As the people brought their coins, they added up. What did they do with all that silver? It was used in the Tabernacle for the sockets that were the base for the wooden boards that made up its walls.

Following that commandment the portion tells us about the the large copper water-basin in the Tabernacle. Every morning the Kohanim, the priests who did the service in the Tabernacle, would wash their hands and feet from this basin before bringing the sacrifices.

Copper is a simple, common metal. Although we can polish it and make it look bright and shiny, it is not used like gold, to make expensive jewelry, or like silver, to make silver dollars or other valuable coins. It's not even like nickel, which is used to make quarters or nickels. Copper is like the smallest coin, the penny.

The beautiful sockets were made of silver, and many parts of the Tabernacle were made of gold. Why was the basin made of simple copper? Because G‑d wants us to use everything in this world in a holy way. If we only used gold and silver we might think that less precious materials cannot be made holy. The basin was made of copper, a less precious metal, because G‑d wants us to remember that everything can be used in a good way.

And this was the first vessel which the Kohen used every day. This helps remind us that we should begin our day knowing that everything in this world should be used in a good and holy way.